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Transitioning Back to School

7 ways to prepare your child for this school year!!

Written by Madeline Mitchell, director of Hi iQ, Tutoring and Education Centre, Bondi Junction

Returning to school can be a challenging task for both children and parents. January is hot. Holidays are fresh. The excitement of Christmas still lingers in the air. Routines are out the window and there is a foreboding realisation that the chaos of packing lunches, organising school bags and books, homework and deadlines and other joys of returning to school are all just around the corner…

Transitioning your child back into the classroom doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. Here are some simple pointers to help prepare your child in returning to school with a head start!

  1. Children are like sponges. They will pick up on any negative connotations about returning to school, either from their parents, siblings or friends. Make sure you reinforce how exciting this year is going to be and refer to a couple of examples that you know are unique for this year. As a parent you need to be positive and excited about the year ahead.
  2. Children thrive on responsibility and a sense of maturity. Give your child a suitable job or task that they can manage around the house in January. Reinforce the significance of this job using phrases like ‘Now you are in Year Two, I think you are grown up enough to… help me make some cupcakes, take the dog for a short walk by yourself, choose a new novel from the bookstore etc’.  Make sure it is a fun task and something that interests them. Start to build their excitement about being in a new year level and the significance of their educational development.
  3. Routines!!! As hard as it is to maintain routines in the holidays, it is import to start returning to normality a week or so before beginning school.  Start with simple household routines like bedtimes, eating times (adjust according to the school bell times), the types of foods you child eats and at what time of the day (treats should be saved for after school hours), get your child ready in the morning at the usual time for your family, focus on breakfast, getting dressed etc.
  4. Get the brains ticking! After over 5 weeks off school all children will experience difficulty getting their thoughts focused back into learning. Children will need time to remember how to complete specific mathematics and literacy based tasks. Some children will even forget simple skills they learnt from the year before. This is normal behaviour for primary school children, however, the faster your child can begin cognitively processing learnt material, the better. Think of creative ways that you can begin to engage your child in educational activities during January. Here are some great suggestions that can be implemented at home or away:
    • Reading is essential. Let your child pick the book, read to your child if you can or get them to read to themselves for at least 10 minutes a day
    • Keep a holiday journal so that they are writing everyday
    • Write and illustrate their own book, or use an iPad to take pictures and make an ebook.
    • Use appropriate literacy and numeracy based apps
    • Conduct a science experiment or cook something simple and write the procedure.
    • Older children can plan a n outing and implement it using a budget and timetable. They can investigate entry costs, transport costs, opening and closing times, other expenses and information etc.
    • Make a pamphlet or poster advertising a local attraction
    • Get creative! Follow instructions to build something out of Lego, Play-Doh, beaded necklaces, sock puppets etc.
  5. Get your child involved! Take them shopping to choose their new lunch box, stationary, books and contact etc.
  6. Set up a quiet space without distractions where they can complete their homework when school resumes. Make them aware of where this space is and what it means to be working here
  7. Set attainable goals and expectations for the year ahead. Discuss suitable rewards for completing homework on time e.g. “After homework is completed you can have time on the iPad’

Remember that children will reflect your own beliefs and thought patterns about returning to school. Be positive and excited about the possibilities of the new year ahead and manage challenges as they arise, don’t preempt them. Education is the key to possibilities so embrace 2015 and begin with the right foot forward!

Madeline Mitchell
Primary School Teacher / Early Learning Specialist
Hi iQ Tutoring and Education

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